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Korea and Her Neighbours. A Narrative of Travel, With An Account of The Vicissitudes and Position of The Country.
London.: John Murray.. 1905. 2 volumes. Volume I: Folding colour map of Central Korea, black and white plates and line drawings in text, xxi + 261pp, endpapers browned, some light occasional foxing, maroon cloth marked and a little rubbed at extremities. Volume II: Folding colour map, black and white plates, line drawings in text, v + 321pp, index. Both volumes show a little rubbing at head of spine. They appear to be different issues of the 1905 edition of this classic work. The cloth varies a little in colour and texture between the 2 volumes and at the foot of Volume I the gilt lettering reads "John Murray" whereas the foot of Volume II bears the words "London/John Murray". These two volumes clearly have come together after publication as Volume II bears the signs of having been in a private library with the handsome bookplate of Percy James Hoyland White of New Plymouth in New Zealand laid down on the front paste down and two large crosses in blue pencil across the endpapers whereas the endpapers of the first volume are a little browned but otherwise completely clean. The text block in both volumes is generally very clean. Sir Walter C. Hillier, at the time, the British Consul-General in Korea writes in the preface "It is fortunate that Mrs Bishop's visit to Korea was so opportunely timed. At the present rate of progress much that came under her observation will, before long, be "improved" out of existence; and although no one can regret the disappearance of many institutions and customs that have nothing but their antiquity to recommend them, she has done valuable service in placing on record so graphic a description of experiences that future travellers will probably look for in vain". He remarks how her contacts including the King and late Queen, as well as contacts within the foreign community of Seoul, official, missionary and mercantile, and her knowledge of Sino-Japanese War recommend this work to the reader. In fact Isabella Bird Bishop visited Korea on four occasions between January 1894 and March 1897. In the introduction she remarks that she found it a difficult country to write about due to a lack of reference books. She discovered the traveller's need to "laboriously disinter each fact for himself, usually through the medium of an interpreter; and as five or six versions of each are given by apparently equally reliable authorities, frequently the "teachers" of the foreigners, the only course is to hazard a bold guess as to which of them has the best chance of being accurate." However she goes on to say that "Accuracy has been my first aim...". Korea and Her Neighbours is a fascinating account, by a master travel writer, of Korea at the end of the 19th century. .
      [Bookseller: Asia Bookroom]
Last Found On: 2017-06-09           Check availability:      Biblio    

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